In the wake of the recent debate regarding ”suspicious Korean sponsors”, we at Connecting Slovenia would like to post an official statement regarding our tournament (and it looks like doing so is popular these days). Note that this is not an attack on any individual or organization, nor it is a defense from our side. It’s not even a damage control for our brand, since we mainly focus on eSports in Slovenia (and the Balkan region), and we know we proved ourselves to the local community on countless occasions that we are a bunch of hard working guys. We would simply like to present the facts to the community and since we are a volunteer organization with members working and/or studying for little to no income from eSports (most of our income came from travel fee compensation from legit organizers, and it’s not a profit – we are talking in hundreds, not thousands of dollars to be clear) it takes time for us to gather, talk and publish anything as we got other priorities at this point of our lives.
Our passion and hard work were the two main things that kept us alive ever since we started our eSports related work back in 2006. We organized several tournaments(100+) around Slovenia and its neighbouring countries and all of our members (doing volunteer work) worked countless hours preparing, streaming, admining and covering our events – ranging from tiny SC2 and HearthStone Massacres and a few LAN tournaments for Slovenian gamers to Conn.Si Arena brand tournament, which was fully supported and sponsored from our wallets. First ever Arena had a prize pool of 110€, second was upped to 200€, and for the third Arena, we received a decent support from SteelSeries in hardware, while still putting our own 200€ into the prizes. Needless to say, we worked our butts off and were happy that players signed up for the tournament, and even more so when the community accepted out events under a new brand/community name.
After SteelSeries Arena Season 3 ended, most of our core members became increasingly more occupied by school, work and other activities that sadly had to be made a priority at that point. Some of us still casted Go4SC2, while also helping out with the Gfinity StarCraft II project, while others went inactive and helped when they could. We did write a plan for Arena Season 4 and searched for sponsors that would finance a decent tournament with a prize pool of around 1.000€ and a studio cast here in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, but to no avail. It seemed like none of the companies wanted to support an organization in such a small country like Slovenia. It was around that time that we wanted to drop all StarCraft II projects apart from the local ones when the Korean sponsor approached us with a relatively credible background, as he had already worked with some of the more-known organizers at that point. Instead of going with Arena Season 4, we simply made a new brand and launched it. Upon talking with this Korean sponsor we reached an agreement that we will stream the event and take care of PR (news and Teamliquid things like posting the event on forum, Liquipedia and calendar) and coverage, while the prize pool, getting most of the participating players (we only got some of the foreigners into the tournament, since he claimed to have no contacts outside of Korea) and all the other tournament related things were done by this particular Korean sponsor. We even checked with some of the players who participated (and won the prize) in previous events sponsored by the same person if they were indeed getting paid, and after getting a positive feedback from them the whole thing seemed legit and we went for it. We did hear something about dirty money once from another, non-related person, but that was after we already announced and started the tournament and we didn’t know if it was a backed up claim or just a result of envy, so we promptly ignored it. We were kept in the dark, but we also didn’t ask a lot of questions, and that is indeed our fault, but we did demand a sponsor to be named.
Now, when we look back at it, it seems pretty obvious that all of it might have been done for the betting purposes and while there is no certain way of knowing that for sure due to lack of any kind of, proof/evidence, it just seems the most logical explanation considering the ‘free’ sponsorship we received. Thinking about things retrospectively now, everything was indeed too good to be true and we most likely got blind sighted by our own drive and aspirations to finally make a ‘newsworthy’ tournament we all wanted to (but failed to, due to lack of interest from sponsors in Slovenia) and this Korean sponsor just happened to be in the right place at the right time. We also referred the same Korean sponsor to other organizers when he asked us to do so, since we sincerely thought he was legit and we didn’t try to hold him all for ourselves – having top level Korean players on your tournament makes your stream much more likely to get better numbers and we had no problem sharing that with others. The fact is that we don’t have partnership with the main streaming webpage (I won’t name it, but we all know which one) and that was one of our goals that we failed to achieve, so we really had no more incentive to continue to work as hard as we did, since we can cover all local tournaments in Slovenia with ease even without it (or any funds, since it’s funded by us, and expenses for a SC2 or HS LAN tournament with a gaming mouse for a prize are pretty low and manageable without any sponsors).
This concludes our statement and we hope that the StarCraft II community can get to the bottom of this. We felt obligated to give this statement and somehow help with the investigation regarding illegal betting. We also believe (or let’s rather say hope) that players were not involved in this match-fixing /bribery scandal as it would be disastrous for small community that Starcraft II has (compared to most popular games). Since we don’t have many connections apart from a few fellow casters and smaller organizers, we don’t really know who to turn to, but we would like to help with the possible investigation. We urge parties that are responsible for the investigations to contact us on email@example.com for further details about our past tournament, and we would like to deeply apologize if we offended anyone with organizing an event with this Korean sponsor, but we just wanted to do what was best for the community, or so we thought.